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DUBAWA Ghana, US Embassy Ghana hold two-day workshop on election disinformation in Accra, Kumasi

DUBAWA Ghana, in collaboration with the US Embassy in Ghana, has organised a two-day stakeholders workshop and panel sessions on election misinformation and disinformation.

The workshop and panel discussions, which took place in Accra and Kumasi, were under the theme: “Combating Information disorder using effective communication in a modern information ecosystem.”

The workshop’s goal was to bring together stakeholders to discuss the crucial role of effective communication in the media and information ecosystem. It was also to help combat information disorder while equipping students in tertiary institutions with modern practices of navigating the information landscape before and during the upcoming elections.

The first of two sessions was hosted at the American Corner in Kumasi on March 12, 2024, and was moderated by Nathan Tetteh Gadugah, Editor for DUBAWA Ghana.

The focus was on practising journalists in the region and how to confront information disorder. A cross-section of journalists from the major media platforms in the area, led by the Ashanti Region President of the GJA, Kingsley Hope, attended an insightful event with a lot of brainstorming on how to fight election disinformation effectively.

Kevin Brosnahan, Press Attache/Information Officer at the US Embassy, Ghana; Dr Nafisa Mahama, Acting Director of the Information Services Department at the Ministry of Information; Mr Hope Kingsley, Ashanti Regional president for the Ghana Journalists Association, Diana Bempong-Marfo, Head of Programmes for the National Commission for Civic Education in the Ashanti Region, and Sarah Wachter, the critical speaker all gave their remarks to set off a remarkable discussion on election disinformation, the role of the media.

The panel session allowed the various speakers to share their experiences on the crucial role of effective communication in the media and information ecosystem for combatting information disorder.

Panellists at the event in Kumasi.

Dr Winnifred Nafisa Mahama highlighted the efforts of the Ministry of Information to battle information disorder. She urged the journalists to verify all information they receive to ensure the populace is well informed to make the right decisions.

“If the citizens get the right information, they can make informed decisions. It is important for us to get the right information through the right channel to the right people at the right time,” Dr Mahama told the journalists.

She added that the new media (social media) has altered information dissemination in many significant respects. Still, journalists should endeavour to get the correct information to the people at all times, especially in the upcoming elections. She emphasised that the Ministry of Information is enhancing media literacy across institutions and strengthening fact-checking mechanisms. 

On her part, Diana Bempong-Marfo ESQ said the National Commission for Civic Education has been educating people about how to consume the correct information and spot fake news, especially in an election year.

“We do ‘operation leg work’ where we interact one-on-one/door-to-door with people because we believe that sometimes when people are in a group, it is difficult to interact with them. Interacting one-on-one gets us the desired impact,” she said.

She added that the Commission is proactive by engaging the youth and community leaders in several ways to improve media and information literacy. 

Sarah Wachter, an expert in elections mis and disinformation and a renowned journalist with the credentials of having worked with the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, etc., gave the keynote address. 

She called on journalists and government agencies to debunk information disorder in real time/ in the quickest possible way. She educated participants on using some verification tools to deal effectively with mis and disinformation during elections. 

Sarah Wachter, key speaker at the event in Kumasi.

Day two of the workshop was held for Journalism and Media Studies students at the University of Media, Arts and Communication- GIJ in Accra on March 14, 2024.

In his opening remarks, Kevin Brosnahan, Press Attache at the US Embassy Ghana, said the advent of social media has worsened the impact of disinformation during elections.

Participants at the American Corner, Kumasi.

“Today, social media and the ability to amplify and share false information on a broad scale are challenging our democracy, “ he said. 

He said that is why they collaborated with DUBAWA and Sarah Wachter to educate journalists and journalism students to prepare them for mis and disinformation during Ghana’s elections.

Kevin Brosnahan, Press Attaché, US Embassy Ghana.

Speakers at the panel session urged student journalists to be interested in political issues to ensure they feed the public with the correct information during elections.

Panellists for the event at UniMAC-GIJ

Dr Bedu-Addo, Dean of the School of Journalism at UniMAC-GIJ, urged student journalists to take a keen interest in political issues.

“One of my frustrations as a lecturer is teaching young people who are simply not interested in current affairs,” he said.

He added that the youth have the power to articulate their concerns when they come together. 

Sarah Wachter urged student journalists to carefully curate content through the proper ‘youthful channels ‘to meet the young people with the correct information where they are. 

“You’re the future press call of Ghana, and one of the important roles you can play is to meet the youth where they are reading, engaging and consuming media. That is social media platforms,” she added.

She urged the journalism students to put out explainers that break down complex topics on social media. This will get their fellow young people into political discourse.

Participants at the UniMAC- GIJ seminar room.

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